Take a look at these eight courses you should play when in Shropshire.
The Best Golf Courses In Shropshire
Situated in the West Midlands, the county of Shropshire is set alongside Wales and Cheshire and offers golf in the rolling hills at the heart of the country. With some incredible views to enjoy, we have taken a look at eight courses you should play when travelling to this unheralded golfing county.
Related: Golf Monthly’s UK&I Top 100 Courses
Today’s two layouts provide wonderfully contrasting tests, with the Hawkstone playing up to and around the extraordinary cliffs of the Hawkstone Park Follies. The par-5 8th stands out on the front nine, doglegging sharply to the left, with everything cambering awkwardly away from you. It’s then still a long way in to a green beautifully framed by trees, a demanding target which I concluded only the brave, foolish or highly skilled would risk taking on in two. The 10th takes you down to the highest of the cliffs, while the 11th then plays between them, with folly visitors possibly charting your progress from up on high. The Championship course is more of an American-style layout with water aplenty, although I couldn’t help but think that the trees around the 3rd green gave it a Spanish flavour. Over the final stretch, the 17th stands out - a shortish par 3 across a pretty pond with a steep-fronted green.
The front nine plays over flatter terrain with trees forming the main adversaries, though mercifully, nearly all have short grass beneath them so you’ll rarely suffer the double blow of also losing your ball. Moving it right to left is a big advantage on the demanding 5th, while the par-5 7th has a massive tree in the middle of the fairway, which I obviously took dead-aim on to ensure safe passage one side or the other! The back nine the other side of the railway has a very different character as the course wends through the Shropshire countryside via much more undulating terrain.
The grand white Georgian clubhouse forms the impressive backdrop to the 2nd, 9th, 13th and 18th holes on a course best described as delightful, blessed with enviable variety and the right balance of challenge and chance. The 4th is a lovely risk-reward par 4 with the green tucked away to the right and plenty of bunkers to discourage wanton aggression. Scores can certainly be made or lost on the 9th and 10th, first a long par-4 doglegging up and round to the left with a steeply sloping green, then a 220-yarder down the hill with bunkers lying in wait.
This is a pretty little course full of plunging descents, as on the par-3 7th, and pulse-racing climbs, as on the tempting short par-4 9th. The 13th is another downhiller sweeping round to the left with a sleepered bank just short, while the tight-looking 15th takes you further down. At this point you will realise you are now at the course’s lowest point, while the clubhouse, most assuredly, is not! Thankfully, the climb back up is via three very good holes, and if you par all three, you can reward yourself with a pint on the balcony as you watch others making the final ascent.
No golfing visit to Shropshire is complete without testing yourself against this short but stunning hillside layout. It opens with three extraordinary par 3s, the 1st possibly the hardest starting hole in the county as you contemplate a green perched atop a steep bank seemingly miles away. Once on top, the views are simply breathtaking, and short though the course is, stamina comes into the equation here too, as this is definitely golf with more than a hint of fell-walking thrown in.
Llanymynech Golf Club, as you can tell from the name which means Church of the Monks, has a strong link to Wales. Its club emblem is a daffodil and a dragon intertwined with a rose and lion, and perhaps more significantly, 15 of the holes take place in Wales itself. Despite only three of the holes being situated in England, the course is English thanks to being registered with the English Golf Union.
Formed in 1933, the nine hole layout was eventually extended to 18 holes with the most interesting being the fourth where you tee off England and play to a green in Wales. But the back nine is really where you start to see the sheer natural beauty of the course. 11, 12 and 13 offer incredible views before you dip down for 14 and 15. The final three holes are spectacular too.
The Oswestry Golf Club was formed in 1903 and yet the club would not move to its current site near Aston Hall until the late 1920's where James Braid was tasked with designing the course.
Braid used the naturally undulating land to great effect with several of the 18 holes having uphill approach shots that require well struck irons and the right clubbing. The par-3's in particular reveal this perfectly. The 4th is a perplexingly frustrating hole because despite only being 124 yards, it plays longer due to its uphill slope. The 9th and 17th are longer but play the same way. The key is to take a par and move on.
Currently closed due to major redevelopment, The Astbury opened back in 2010 and was designed by KK Downing, who happened to be the ex-guitarist for Judas Priest. The course is set to be opened again in Spring 2020.
What are your favourite courses in Shropshire? Let us know on our social media channels.
Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and instruction. He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, a highly regarded trade publication for golf club secretaries and managers, and has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played well over 950 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, right across the spectrum from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.
Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf
Jeremy is currently playing...
Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft
3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft
Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft
Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)
Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response
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